Gun control groups silent on Newsom's anti-gun constitutional amendment

AP Photo/Nic Coury

Gun owners and Second Amendment organizations have been quick to respond to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a 28th Amendment to enshrine gun bans, waiting periods, and background checks into the U.S. Constitution. My colleague Tom Knighton covered the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms’ response (full disclosure: I’m an unpaid board member of CCRKBA), and other 2A outfits from Gun Owners of America to the NRA have all sounded off on Newsom’s push for a gun grab.


We’ve heard a lot from Newsom’s opponents, but strangely his allies in the anti-gun movement have been mostly silent about his call to disarm. The Twitter feed for Giffords has featured several birthday wishes for Gabby Giffords as well as promoting the group’s upcoming “National Safer Communities Summit”, but has yet to even acknowledge Newsom’s proposal, much less celebrate it.


Brady’s Twitter feed, meanwhile, has been pushing gun control activist Fred Guttenberg’s new book and stumping for the increased use of red flag laws, with nary a mention of Newsom’s big idea. Everytown for Gun Safety, on the other hand, spent most of Thursday tweeting about an online “conversation” from Everytown Pride about “school safety and protecting LGBTQ+ kids” held on Thursday night; once again avoiding any mention of Newsom’s call for a constitutional amendment.

Even smaller anti-gun outfits like Guns Down and Change the Ref have ignored Newsom’s proposal, choosing instead to focus their attention on the small protests by anti-gun activists in D.C. demanding the Senate hold a vote on an “assault weapons” ban rather than promote Newsom’s idea to enshrine a ban in the Constitution.

In fact, the only gun control organization that I could find that deigned to acknowledge Newsom’s call to disarm was the group Here4TheKids, fresh off their face-plant at the Colorado state capitol where 25,000 activists were supposed to gather for a sit-in to demand Gov. Jared Polis issue an executive action immediately halting all gun sales and ordering a mandatory “buyback” of existing guns. Instead of the throngs of prohibitionists promised by organizers, a scant crowd of a few hundred activists showed up on Monday, and many of them fled the capitol after a rain shower that afternoon.


No, they haven’t shifted the Overton Window, though I do believe that’s part of what both Here4TheKids and Newsom are trying to do. I doubt that Newsom was inspired by Here4TheKids’ political theater either. If so I suspect he would have welcomed Saira Rao and her cohorts to Sacramento for the roll-out of his campaign to change the Constitution, just as I’m sure he would have loved to have had Gabby Giffords, Shannon Watts, and other anti-gun activists standing by his side while he recorded his message for social media.

So what gives? Why are these gun control groups suddenly gun-shy about supporting Newsom when he’s proposing to enshrine some of their most treasured anti-gun ideas into the Constitution itself? Since they clearly don’t disagree with the policies that Newsom is putting forth, the most logical conclusion is that it’s the method they don’t like.

While Newsom is calling for a change to the Constitution, several anti-gun outfits have instead joined forces to try to expand the Supreme Court and overturn HellerMcDonald, and Bruen. As the Bloomberg-funded website The Trace reported back in April:


A year after the Supreme Court upended the legal status quo on gun regulation with its landmark Bruen decision, more than a dozen gun violence prevention groups and advocates have signed on to an effort to reform the nation’s highest court.

The nationwide “Just Majority” campaign, which launched on April 24, will push for Congress to expand the court, impose term limits, and establish a binding code of ethics for justices. Over a three-month period, the campaign will tour across the U.S., ending in Washington, D.C. in June. Stops in New York, Chicago, and Newtown, Connecticut, will focus specifically on the court’s impact on gun laws and gun violence.

There are more than 30 progressive groups involved, with focuses ranging from climate change and voting access to reproductive and women’s rights. For the five gun reform groups who’ve signed on, the effort represents somewhat of a departure from the typical playbook, which has frequently centered on lobbying for specific policies and legislation on the state and federal levels.

“It’s time for the majority of Americans who support common sense gun laws to pay as much attention to the Supreme Court as the gun lobby has, and to restore balance through reforms including Supreme Court expansion,” said Fred Guttenberg, a coalition member and founder of Orange Ribbons for Jaime, named for his daughter, who was a victim of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Among the coalition are the gun reform groups March for Our Lives, Guns Down America, Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence, This Is Our Lane, and the Newtown Action Alliance. Notably, larger, more establishment gun reform groups like Giffords, Everytown, and Brady are not listed as participants.

A dozen high-profile advocates, many of whom have not been involved with Supreme Court reform efforts before, have also joined in their individual capacities, including Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, and David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and co-founder of March for Our Lives.


That last bit is worth noting. While the biggest anti-gun groups like Everytown, Brady, and Giffords aren’t officially a part of this effort, many individual activists associated with those groups are on the “Pack the Court” bandwagon, and that seems to be where the the gun control lobby writ large is hoping to go big. If the Supreme Court suddenly reverses itself and declares that actually, there’s no individual right to keep and bear arms after all then there’s no need to change the Constitution to allow for the restrictions that Newsom wants to put in place. And heading into the 2024 election cycle, rallying the progressive base to vote in Democrats so they can cram the Court full of anti-gun justices makes more sense from a get out the vote perspective than calling for an Article V convention of the states.

If those efforts fail and Republicans are in a position to block their court-packing plan after the 2024 elections take place, I think we’ll see a move towards Newsom’s position on the part of the gun prohibitionists. For now, however, Newsom’s proposed 28th Amendment is a distraction from their short-term strategy for 2024, and I think that goes a long way towards explaining their silence about his gun ban plans.

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